Unless you've seen any of the films in the 'Millenium' series – that is, 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' 'The Girl Who Played With Fire,' and the final installment, 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest,' which opens in theaters this weekend – then you probably don't know who Noomi Rapace is. But if you've seen even five minutes of any of them, then you cannot forget her: the young actress offers a breakthrough performance as Lisbeth Salander, a bruised but indefatigable woman who not only survives a brutal childhood, but a brutal adulthood, and emerges as the toughest female lead in a movie this side of Ellen Ripley.

Cinematical sat down last week with Rapace at the Los Angeles press day for 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest,' which opened in limited release on October 29. In addition to talking about the tough challenges presented to Lisbeth (and by extension, herself), Rapace examined how and why she thinks that the violence her character endures must be depicted as authentically as possible, and reflected on the deeper messages the movie series communicates beneath its glossy, entertaining surface.